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The Ultimate Guide to Saving on Your Electric Bill

Unlock savings on your utility bill with these simple tips. Here’s how to lower your electricity bill.
Electricity bill with calculator

No one likes to think about their electricity bill.

A 2016 utility bill study found that the average energy user spends 8 minutes per year interacting online with their utility. Of course, those 8 minutes probably feel like an eternity because energy bills are confusing. You probably just end up grumbling about how many loads of laundry you did that month or how much you ran the AC.

But times are changing—for the better.

Today, thanks to advances in both appliance technology and renewable development, consumers now have unprecedented power over their electricity bills. Energy users can now monitor their energy habits more closely, make changes that actually result in savings, and capitalize on the economic incentives of supporting renewables. The outcome? You save money and provide meaningful support creating a cleaner, greener energy future. Perch Energy is here to help you decode your energy bill and start to make meaningful savings on your electricity costs.

What’s costing you the most on your electricity bill?

The first step to saving on your electricity costs is understanding which of your appliances and habits are costing you the most. 

Out of all your utilities, electricity typically racks up the most cost every month. These charges are from things like your lighting, TV, appliances, refrigerator, and laundry machines. Different appliances use different amounts of electricity, and therefore the cost of operating each appliance varies. For example, it costs more to operate your AC than your TV. Here’s a breakdown of cost per common household appliance

Energy use by appliance:

Appliance Estimated energy usage Estimated energy cost
Central air conditioner 3.0 kWh/hour $0.39/hour
Electric clothes dryer (light load vs. heavy load) 2.5–4.0 kWh/load $0.33–$0.52/load
Washing machine (hot wash, warm rinse) 6.3 kWh/load $0.82/load
Refrigerator (25 cu. ft., Energy Star rated) 60.0 kWh/month $7.80/month
50 in. LCD TV 0.016 kWh/hour ~$0.01/hour
Hairdryer 1.5 kWh/hour $0.20/hour
Night light (4 watts on 12 hours/day) 1.44 kWh/month $0.19/month

On average, U.S. households spend the most money on heating and cooling every month. Coming in second is water heating (from showers, laundry, washing the dishes). Third are appliances (your dryer, fridge, dishwasher, TV). And last is lighting.

Tips for lowering your energy usage

Now that you know where your utility bill charges are coming from, it’s time to start figuring out ways to cut those costs. There are many ways to achieve savings on your utility costs, ranging from home improvements to greening your daily habits. We broke these tips down into 4 sections: appliance upgrades, home improvements, daily habits, and clean energy hacks.

Upgrade your energy appliances:

From LEDs and hue lights to smart thermostats and hot water timers, energy appliances have seen incredible advances in the last twenty years. The goal of these technological developments is simple: make it easy for you to use less electricity. The following appliances are the ultimate “set it and forget it” tools to help you lower your energy bill—and your carbon footprint. 

1. Switch to LEDs

Not only do LEDs use nearly 75% less electricity than traditional incandescent lightbulbs, but they also last 25 times longer. This is because of the way they generate light. LEDs create light through electrical devices called diodes which are semiconductors that emit light when electricity flows through them. Diodes are much more efficient than filaments, which are what traditional incandescent light bulbs use to create light. While LEDs have a higher upfront cost than incandescent lightbulbs, the long-term benefits of LEDs far outweigh the extra costs!

2. Install a Smart Thermostat

 Smart Thermostats are thermostats that use a combination of scheduling, motion-sensing, and geofencing to optimize heating and cooling in your home. A smart thermostat will automatically turn on and off your central heating and cooling systems according to your daily activity. Considering that heating and cooling is typically the thing that costs the most on electric bills every month, a Smart Thermostat is a worthy investment.

3. Use ENERGY STAR appliances

The ENERGY STAR program was created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DoE) to promote energy efficiency. The program intends to provide consumers with the information they need to purchase more efficient appliances for their homes. ENERGY STAR certified products are regarded as the most efficient products on the market, enabling consumers to lower their electric bills and carbon footprints. In 2019, ENERGY STAR products reportedly saved Americans $39 billion in energy costs.

4. Upgrade your refrigerator

While refrigerators aren’t the most energy-demanding appliance in your home, they’re still a consistent energy user since they’re always on. Fridge technology has seen vast improvements over the last two decades, so if it has been a while since you upgraded your fridge, it could be worth looking into. ENERGY STAR fridges report using 10% less electricity than other contemporary fridges and 40% less electricity than fridges from the early 2000s.

5. Limit use of your dryer machine

Clothes dryers typically use the most electricity out of all the appliances in your home. If you’re in the market for a new dryer, then it’s definitely worth looking into ENERGY STAR certified dryers as they typically use 20% less electricity than traditional dryers. However, if you’re not in the market for a new dryer, you can still unlock savings by limiting your dryer usage. Invest in a good drying rack and take advantage of sunny days to dry your clothes.

Tools to repair your home

Home improvements to help you save money:

If you’re a fan of DIY home improvements, then this section is for you. Especially if you live in an older home (15 - 20+ years),

1. Conduct an energy audit

The first step to making your home more energy-efficient is to get an energy audit. Energy audits are conducted by energy professionals who will come to your home and determine how much energy you’re using and how you can make improvements to your home to save money and energy. Many states offer free audits through state energy programs and they can make a significant impact on lowering your electricity usage. But rest assured, if your state doesn't offer free audits, we'll guide you through all the steps of doing your own DIY home energy audit with our handy checklist.

 2. Make sure your insulation is up to date

 Heating and cooling are generally the biggest culprits of expensive utility bills. So, to save costs, you want to make sure that your home is doing all it can to maintain its temperature. The EPA estimates that homeowners can save 15% on their heating and cooling costs with proper insulation in attics, walls, windows, and basements.

 3. Dual flush toilet converters

Toilets are the biggest water consumers in households, accounting for almost 30% of monthly water consumption. Dual flush converters allow you to use different amounts of water for different types of water, reducing the amount of water used by toilets by up to 50%. Plus, they’re easy to install!

Daily habits:

There are many fancy gizmos and gadgets that you can install in your house to help you live a greener, more energy-efficient lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean you need to upgrade every appliance in your home to see meaningful savings on your electricity bill. Here are our favourite everyday tricks you can do to save money on your electricity costs.

  • Air dry your clothes
  • Run dishwasher less frequently and at night
  • Cold wash your laundry (check out these other tips to save energy and money on laundry)
  • Set your thermostat to a schedule
  • Sleep and unplug your appliances

 Go solar: 

Clean energy technology has seen a number of advancements in the last twenty years. The result is that renewable energy supply is now more accessible and cheaper than ever. And everyday energy consumers are well-positioned to take advantage of these options.

 1. Install solar panels

We’ll start with the most expensive option. If you have a suitable budget and roof for solar, then installing your own panels is an excellent way to lower the costs of your utility bill. In fact, you’ll likely be able to offset your entire electricity costs and more. 

 2. Sign up for community solar

Community solar is a program designed to make the financial benefits of solar energy accessible to everyday homeowners. This program is for the 80% of U.S. residents who are unable to install solar panels on their rooves. Community solar is a subscription-based program where you subscribe to a solar farm near you’re home. Instead of having to install panels on your own roof, you support a solar farm near you, enabling it to operate and promoting clean energy generation in your community. In return for your support, you receive solar credits on your utility bill that lower how much you owe for electricity every month. It’s a win-win! You save money and support clean energy at the same time!

How to save on your electricity bill in the summer

In general, your electricity bills will be highest in the summer. A major reason for this increase is due to the cost of keeping your home cool. Heating and cooling your home are likely the most expensive energy habits you have and can cost you up to $100 dollars or more. HVAC systems and air conditioners are among the biggest energy consumers in your home. Check out our AC calculator to see how much your cooling system is costing you.

But in addition to having to factor in the cost of running your AC more frequently in the summer, you also have to account for summer’s increased demand for electricity. With kids home from school, electricity usage tends to go up in the summer, which not only makes your electricity bills higher but also can raise the cost of electricity. Moreover, many of your appliances, including your fridge and freezer, will have to work a little harder in the summer to keep things cool.

While you’re pretty likely to see a spike in the cost of your electricity in the summer, there are still some tricks you can do to help lower your electricity bill. Here are some of our favourites:

1. Use fans

We’ll start with an easy one. Fans use significantly less electricity than AC units (up to 10x less!) and can still help keep you cool during those hot summer days. Fans can be a great solution for keeping you cool at night when it’s a little less hot outside.

2. Get outside--both you and your kids

A big way to avoid the higher electricity cost in the summer is by, well, not using electricity as much. Our favorite way to do this is to get outside. Go to the beach. Go to a pool. Go for a hike. Getting your kids outside during the day will also help save on those costs.

3. Install a smart thermostat or set a schedule

Smart thermostats are a great investment for a number of reasons. They can monitor your activity to create optimized cooling schedules for your home. They also allow you to control your home temperature from your phone. 

4. Use your appliances during off-peak hours

Electricity rates will vary throughout the day depending on demand. One tip for saving on electricity costs is to run appliances like your laundry machine and dishwasher during lower peak times of the day. Lower peak times tend to be during the middle of the day when people are out and about and later at night once people start to go to sleep.

5. Replace filters on your AC

Don’t make your AC work overtime. Especially if you have an older AC unit or central AC system, check out your AC filters to see if they could use a replacement. Some experts estimate that you could save 15% on your AC costs just by replacing those filters.

How to save on your electricity bill in the winter

Like the summer, winter has its own slew of energy challenges. Your electricity bill likely won’t be as high as it is during the summer, but there are still some ways you can rack up costs. Heating your home (and your water) is energy-intensive and can be costly.

Here are some tips on how to lower your electricity bill during the winter and save on the cost of heating.

 1. Keep those doors and windows closed

Don’t heat your home in vain. Make sure that when your heater is on, your windows and doors are closed. 

2. Insulate your home

Want to take closing windows and doors to the next level? Making sure that your home has insulated windows and doors can save you a ton of money on both heating and cooling costs over the year. Installing insulation can be a great weekend DIY project for the spring or fall while you’re gearing up for the more weather-intensive parts of the year. 

3. Insulate your water heater

Who doesn’t like a good warm shower in the winter? It can be a great way to warm up. But it can also be a great way to rack up your electricity costs--water heaters are among the most energy-demanding appliances you have. One trick for saving money on your water heating costs is to wrap your water heater with some insulating pads. That will help improve its efficiency. 

4. Use space heaters strategically

Space heaters are designed to help you heat specific parts of your home. They can be extremely helpful for cutting your heating costs, especially if you rely on a central heating system. Many of us spend most of our time in only a few rooms of our home. A space heater will let you heat specific rooms, unlike most central air systems which heat a group of rooms at a time.

5. Bundle up

This may be obvious, but wearing coats and blankets at home can help you stay warm without having to turn on your heating systems. Plus, they’re cosy.

6. Get an energy audit to determine your home’s efficiency

Most state energy programs offer energy audits where a professional will come to your home and evaluate its efficiency. They’ll come up with a list of prioritized ways that you can make your home more energy-efficient and can give you an idea of how much you’ll save if you make those improvements. 

Get matched to a local solar farm and save on your electricity costs.